Cots talk

dman93

Adventurer
Help me understand cots. Do any/all of the ones provide adequate side-sleeping comfort without a pad (foam, ThermaRest, air mattress)? I’m intrigued, but probably haven’t used one since kindergarten, and I’m hesitant to pack both a cot and mattress. When I travel solo I use an Exped air mattress; with my wife we use a pair of large ThermaRests which are pretty bulky. On the other hand getting off the ground and not dealing with inflating and especially deflating, sound good to me. Thanks.
 

PlacidWaters

Adventurer
Help me understand cots. Do any/all of the ones provide adequate side-sleeping comfort without a pad (foam, ThermaRest, air mattress)? I’m intrigued, but probably haven’t used one since kindergarten, and I’m hesitant to pack both a cot and mattress. When I travel solo I use an Exped air mattress; with my wife we use a pair of large ThermaRests which are pretty bulky. On the other hand getting off the ground and not dealing with inflating and especially deflating, sound good to me.
My personal answer to your question is a firm no, especially if you're older and need cushioning for your hip and shoulder joints, or if you're on the heavy side. The combination of a good mattress and a good cot will double your comfort compared to either one alone, in my opinion.

Advantages of a cot: It gives you a feeling of being suspended, you're off the bumpy ground, it's very easy to get up from a 15" cot (same height as a sofa), and you can store things under it.

However, a good cot has a very tight top---drum tight---so it doesn't stretch and sag over time. That tight top is hard and doesn't provide any cushioning. Hence the need for a mattress.

My favorite mattress is the Exped Synmat 3D-7 on either the Helinox Cot One Convertible or the Camptime Roll-a-Cot. I recommend these items with no reservation, sight unseen. If you're concerned about pack size and/or weight, the Helinox has the edge over the Camptime. The Convertible cot can be used in a lower tent (like a 2P) or a taller tent with the leg extensions (minimum tent height for a 15" cot is about 52"; 60" and over is better). The Camptime can only be used in a taller tent.

Does your current Exped mattress use the pumpsack? I recommend the small yellow sack as the large brown sack is harder to use (for me). It takes 3.5 fillings of the yellow sack to inflate the mattress. The most comfortable way to do it is to roll the mattress out on a picnic table if available. Total inflation time is about one minute. I think that's reasonable for all the comfort you get. Deflation and rollup of the Exped Synmats takes one minute or less. Cot assembly takes about 5 minutes. Total assembly time for a great night of sleep: 7 minutes.

Now, if you're talking about the Exped Megamat, that's a monster that I gave up long ago because a Synmat on a cot is more comfortable than a Megamat on the ground, and much easier to deal with.

The Exped Synmat 3D-7 is 2.8" thick. With a cot, you don't need anything thicker than that. Thus you can save weight and bulk on the mattress by using a cot.

Here's the total package:

Helinox Cot One Convertible (including legs) 5.9 lbs + Exped Synmat 3D-7 MW 2.8 lbs = 8.7 lbs. The packed cot is 5.5" x 21.3"

Camptime Roll-a-Cot Wide 10 lbs + Exped Synmat 3D-7 MW 2.8 lbs = 12.8 lbs. The packed cot is 6" x 37". This shows the space-saving advantage of the Helinox cot, but you pay a lot for the smaller packed size.

What about a foam mattress? Not needed with a cot, not as comfortable as air, and air never packs down like foam.

What about a combination foam and air mattress? Again, not needed with a cot. Air is all you need and it weighs . . . nothing!

P.S. Exped changes the names of its products often. The above are the old names.

PP.S. I've slept on my Exped Synmat 3D-7 every single night for the last 5 years, both camping and on top of my mattress at home. That's how comfortable and durable it is. The mattress can go 6 months without needing to top off the air.

Why am I a cot and air mattress fanatic? Because those two developments of modern camping gear allowed me to return to camping when I had severe arthritis in my shoulders and hips. Now camping is just as comfortable as sleeping at home. Really.
 

Bigunit

Adventurer
The Oztent stretcher cot is the best cot I have slept on. I bought them from a forum member almost 5 years ago. The quality is excellent and they should last me for many more years. I also have the bunk bed disco cot posted above. It's a good cot too.
 
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Wallygator

Adventurer
I haven't spent much time in it yet, but I recently got a Roll-a-cot.
It's the most comfortable cot I've used, it has a bit of tension adjustment to make it firmer/flatter or have more side to side sag too if you want.
The model I ordered has a sleeve for a pad as well.
I also ordered a custom mattress for mine from The Foam Factory for a goofy winter camping project I'm working on.
Roll a cot here also with an Exped mega mat on top. So comfortable I wake up every morning in a puddle of drool.:sleep:(y)
 

dman93

Adventurer
Thanks @PlacidWaters that helped a lot. My Exped is a pure air mattress, no added insulation and no pump bag; it’s Inflated by pumping on it with both hands, then deflated by opening a valve and getting the last air out by rolling it up. It’s very comfortable, and packs down very small (I also use it backpacking) and though it obviously doesn’t get me off the ground as high as a tent, it does keep me dry if a bit of water seeps into my tent. I am not young but have no problem getting up,off the ground, but definitely like some cushioning on my hip bones as a side-sleeper. So using a cot would be an addition to my gear, though whether Helinox (I have their chair, love it) or another brand, it’s not very big compared to all the crap I bring along on my truck. Hmm, I need to think about this …
 

Willsfree

Active member
The Oztent stretcher cot is the best cot I have slept on. I bought them from a forum member almost 5 years ago. The quality is excellent and they should last me for many more years. I also have the bunk bed disco cot posted above. It's a good cot too.
Is the Stretcher built for outdoor use? I want a cot for naps outside on the patio...
 

bitbckt

Member
I just use one of those cheap-o foam pads that Z-fold. I guess I have yet to become arthritic enough to need something approaching a mattress to get a good night's sleep; the cot is the massive leap in comfort.
 

AeroNautiCal

Explorer
Having spine, leg and foot injuries, getting restful sleep in a comfortable bed is very important to me.

Consequently, I invested in a Helinox Cot One with the Leg Extension Kit.

A Multimat Extreme 12XL foam sleeping pad goes onto the Cot, and a NeoAir X-Therm Max insulated sleeping mat lies atop the Multimat.

I have a Cot at a good sitting height, which makes for easier undressing and getting in/out of bed, and a lot of storage space underneath the Cot.

The Multimat provides excellent insulation and adds to comfort, especially with the X-Therm.

I saved up to buy the Helinox Cot and Leg Kit and although expensive I worked out that even if it only lasted the guarantee period of 5 years (and I expect it will do far beyond that) then it was quite inexpensive per month for such a well made bit of kit.).

I had previously used an inexpensive cot which was great (especially with the foam pad) but I wanted something lighter that I could carry on a bicycle and this seemed about right.

Were it not for my need to carry the Cot on my bicycle I would have stuck with my inexpensive cot which works very well.
 

Grassland

Well-known member
I've been using a cheap Woods cot and the Cabela's 'Big Snoozy or whatever their in house pad is called. It's 2".
It's surprisingly comfortable, and because I don't use them nearly often enough, the bulk and weight is offset by reasonable cost.
The cot is just over 6' but it works because I'm 5'7". The smaller length and width also helps in the surveyor tent as it gives more arrangement options.
 

PlacidWaters

Adventurer
If you're not concerned about weight or packed size, there are many cheaper cots available. Two things I would pay attention to are whether the top is very tight to start, and whether it sags over time. Even the top-rated Camptime Roll-a-Cots sag over time if you use them enough. The top is tightened with a screw and wingnut, but only within a certain range. Mine lasted a few years before it stretched too much and couldn't be tightened any further and I replaced it. (I did sleep on it every night for a year during home renovations, which is extreme use and reasonable wear for the $110 I paid for it at the time.) My Helinox cot hasn't sagged yet but I've probably only used it about 30 times.

Some reviews complain about cots that have bars across the head and foot and/or the middle. The Roll-a-Cot and Helinox cots have no cross bars, only side bars.

Ease of assembly is another consideration---how many parts and how complicated they are to put together.
 

TwinStick

Explorer
We have 2 of the Outfitter XL Cabelas cots. Absolutely love them. It is the only cot that I can sleep as good as my bed on. But.....they are big & heavy. Like many, I am overweight but sleep like a baby on it. We also got the air mattresses for them. No bar in the back either.
 

Tex68w

Beach Bum
Thanks for all of the replies fellas, there are so many options to sift through, it's a bit overwhelming. For most local trips I'll likely use an inflatable queen mattress but there will be times that I don't want to bother with that nor will I want to figure out a radiant barrier for that giant volume of air beneath us. Like always, I'll likely look to the Classifieds here on the forum for a decent deal.
 

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